National

Local governments want bigger say in restarting reactors

Kyodo

Only about 20 percent of 160 prefectural and municipal governments that host or are located near nuclear plants support how Kyushu Electric Power Co. went about getting the go-ahead for restarting its reactors in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Kyushu Electric won consent in November from the Kagoshima Prefectural Government and the city of Satsumasendai for the restart of two reactors at its Sendai plant. As a result, they will likely become the first of the country’s 48 offline commercial reactors to resume operations.

In a survey by Kyodo News on 21 prefectures and 139 municipalities that are located within 30 km of a reactor, only 35 said the procedure adopted by Kyushu Electric — seeking the consent of just the host prefecture and host municipality — was appropriate.

While 55 municipalities, or about 30 percent, said the utility’s methods were inappropriate, 70 avoided giving a clear-cut answer. None of these 55 municipalities directly host reactors.

Although the central government appears to back the way Kyushu Electric sought approval only from the host prefecture and municipality, the survey suggests that many municipalities near offline nuclear plants do not favor such a narrow approach.

Amid lingering safety concerns over nuclear power following the Fukushima No. 1 disaster in 2011, the number of cities calling for nearby municipalities to have a say in the decision-making process outnumbered those stating that only those directly hosting reactors should be involved.

The two reactors at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture could be brought back online as early as this spring.

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